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Opp gets $309K grant for downtown facelift

The city of Opp recently received a $309,000 federal grant to improve its downtown’s appearance.

The funds were awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the federal stimulus package.

“This is 100 percent money, the city doesn’t have to put up a match,” said Don Childre, Opp planning director. “This stimulus money was available to cities who had projects ready to go, and we’ve been working on improving the downtown area for a while now. It’s a major priority to Mayor (H.D.) Edgar and his administration.”

The city’s downtown improvement project is being conducted in four phases. Phase I covers the east end of Covington Avenue, and Phase II covers the west end. The first two phases are funded through previously approved Department of Transportation grants, which required a 20 percent match from the city.

Phase III — which is funded by the $309,000 grant — will cover Main Street from the railroad tracks to Hart Avenue. Childre said the total cost of the project, which has been dubbed as “Operation Upgrade,” is close to $1 million.

“We’ll be replacing all the sidewalks,” Childre said. “There will be new electrical and telephone wiring, and it will all be underground now — no exposed wiring downtown. We’ll be putting in new period lighting, similar to the original fixtures. The sidewalks will be a combination of brick and concrete, and will be handicapped accessible. We’ll also be replacing some of the old plumbing infrastructure.”

Phase IV of the project has not yet been funded, and would cover Main Street from Hart Avenue to as far as funding will allow — possibly to Park Avenue.